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How to use Zoom, and avoid awkward screen freeze on your next video call

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Kayleigh Dray
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how to use Zoom: 6 hacks

Working from home at the moment? Then say hello to the six Zoom hacks everyone needs to know about…

Whether you’re using it to chat to friends, family or colleagues, there’s no denying that Zoom is having a bit of a moment – and it’s all down to the fact that we’re on a coronavirus lockdown.

That’s right: as we all make a concerted effort to stay at home and flatten the Covid-19 curve, more and more of us are turning to new apps and remote working tech in order to stay connected with… well, with everyone. And Zoom, thanks to its simplistic nature, has proven to be incredibly popular with people all around the world.

While it’s easy to use, though, we’ve still encountered a few… hmm, let’s call them pitfalls. And, as ever, there are always hacks and tricks you can use to streamline things and make your Zoom calls even easier.

Here are just a few of our favourites.

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Always delay calls by 15 minutes (or start five minutes early)

Why? With so many people working remotely, Webex, part of Silicon Valley giant Cisco, says internet speeds have been put under “tremendous strain”, leading to poor video and audio quality.

“You can get a faster join experience by joining 5 minutes early or even better yet – schedule meetings on the 15th or 45th minute of the hour,” the company told The Telegraph.

Record a transcript

Sick of taking meeting notes? The “recording transcripts” option automatically transcribes the audio of a meeting or webinar that you record to the cloud. As the meeting host, you can edit your transcript. And when you share the recording, people can scan the text, search for keywords, click on any word in the transcript to access the video at that moment, or download the transcript.

Nifty, huh?

Working from home: Zoom realities
That dodgy internet connection? It’s gonna demand repeats. Endless, endless repeats.

Change your background

We’ve all seen those people reporting in from a tropical beach, but how did they do it?

Well, it’s easy. Just follow these four steps:

  1. Click on the little arrow next to the “Stop Video” button in the lower left
  2. Then click “Choose Virtual Background”
  3. Once you’re in there, click the little plus sign 
  4. Now you can add an image, or even a video background (make those waves even more authentic, we guess!)

Turn off your camera

To quickly turn video off/on, hit ⌘Cmd+Shift+V (PC: Alt+V). It’s the perfect way to avoid any awkward moments…

Hold down the spacebar to temporarily unmute yourself

If you mute yourself in Zoom (which you should always do, to avoid that annoying feedback echo), you don’t need to worry about hitting unmute every time you want to speak. Just hold down the spacebar when you want to talk and let go when you’re done. Voila!

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Share your screen with your fellow Zoomers

Press Cmd+Shift+S (macOS) or Alt+Shift+S (Windows) to share your screen.

Avoid Zoomcrashers (aka Zoom gatecrashers)

Zoom has published a guide on how to prevent gatecrashers from disrupting your meetings.

The key takeaways from this guide are as follows:

  • Keep your meeting links off social media
  • Choose “only host” for screen sharing control during a meeting
  • Only allow signed-in users to join a meeting
  • Use the “lock” feature to prevent random users from joining in
  • To remove an unwelcome user, hover over their name in the Participants menu to bring up a “remove” option

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Images: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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